Monday, 12 July 2010

Quinta do Lago

Yesterday's visit to Quinta do Lago was for no other reason than we hadn't been there for quite a while. As it was, the morning's bird list contained few surprises but the chance to photograph Little Bitterns made the trip worthwhile even if the results weren't great in the very harsh sunlight.

It was difficult to resist also pointing the camera at the Black-headed Weavers, a species that surprises and often puzzles first-time visitors here. An African species introduced to Portugal and now a well-established breeding bird, Ploceus melanocephalus is also referred to by some authors (e.g. Stevenson & Fanshawe, Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa) as Yellow-backed Weaver. The fact that the name Black-headed Weaver is also sometimes given to Ploceus cucullatus, better known as Village Weaver, adds to the confusion!

Some time ago we had a long debate in the hide at Quinta do Lago with a visiting 'expert' who knew for certain these birds couldn't be weavers of any sort because they were definitely Black-headed Buntings which he 'was very familiar with' after seeing them on his trip to Lesvos! Nothing we could say would persuade him...

The lagoon held the usual species: Purple Swamp-hens, Common & Red-crested Pochards, Little Grebes, Great Reed Warblers, etc. On the the tidal mud there were a few returning (or perhaps never departed) waders: Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Avocet; also good numbers of Black-headed & Yellow-legged Gulls with just a few Lesser Black-backs and Mediterranean Gulls and a single Audouin's. (On Saturday, we counted 85 Audouin's Gulls at Santa Luzia saltpans.)

If there was any sort of surprise for us yesterday it was the flock of 26 Glossy Ibises that flew over, following the coast. Perhaps they'll end up at Lagoa dos Salgados or maybe some inland ricefields.

At 10.00am, with the temperature approaching 30 degrees, we figured it was time to head for some shade!

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